Harry Simms (labor leader)

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Harry Simms
Harry Simms.jpg
Simms on the cover of the March 1932 Labor Defender
Born Harry Simms Hersh
December 25, 1911
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died February 11, 1932(1932-02-11)
Barbourville, Kentucky, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Young Communist League

Harry Simms (December 25, 1911 – February 11, 1932), born Harry Simms Hersh, was a Jewish American labor leader from Springfield, Massachusetts. He was sent by the National Miners Union to Harlan County, Kentucky during the Harlan County War to organize the mine workers there.

On February 10, 1932, Simms was shot near Brush Creek in Knox County by a sheriff's deputy who also worked as a mine guard for the local coal company. Simms died of his wound at Barbourville Hospital the next day. He was memorialized in a ballad, "The Death of Harry Simms" by Aunt Molly Jackson and Jim Garland,[1] and his funeral service at the Bronx Coliseum attracted a crowd of some 20,000 people.[2] The famous folksinger Pete Seeger popularized "The Death of Harry Simms" after learning it from Jim Garland at the Newport Folk Festival in the 1960s. Tao Rodriguez Seeger has performed a cover version of the song with the Allegro Youth Orchestra (available on YouTube).


  1. ^ Hevener, John W.; Robert Gipe (2002). Which Side Are You On?. University of Illinois Press. pp. 77–80. ISBN 978-0-252-07077-8. 
  2. ^ Strike Songs of the Depression, by Timothy P. Lynch, page 76

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